Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Rant By Senator Burr

Memorial Day weekend seems like a strange time for a US Senator to lash out at Veteran's organizations. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina did just that: http://www.burr.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=aa65233d-d544-d911-5730-974ef9952220.

Even more interesting, the Veteran's organizations lashed back: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/us/veterans-groups-lash-out-at-republican-senator.html?hp&_r=0

Back in February, Senator Burr joined 40 other Republican senators in killing Senator Sanders' bill to fund more support for veterans. This video clip has an extract from Burr's speech on the floor: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/05/25/the-one-video-everyone-needs-to-remember-on-memorial-day-video/

The Republican "concern" over deficits is hogwash. They cared nothing for deficits when they sent the troops to war while cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Remember Dick Cheney gloating the Reagan proved that "deficits don't matter?"

And they have consistently refused to appropriate the funds requested by the VA even as the burden of wounded veterans on the system has drastically increased.

The real Republican agenda seems to be to privatize the VA. Send our veterans off to private health care facilities. Senator Sanders got it about right:

"The real issue here, if you look at the Koch Brothers' agenda, is: look at what many of the extreme right-wing people believe. Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg. These people want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage, they want to privatize the Veteran's Administration, they want to privatize Social Security, end Medicare as we know it, massive cuts in Medicaid, wipe out the EPA, you don't have an Environmental Protection Agency anymore, Department of Energy gone, Department of Education gone. That is the agenda. And many people don't understand that the Koch Brothers have poured hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars into the Tea Party and two other kinds of ancillary organizations to push this agenda."
—Senator Bernie Sanders, MSNBC News (October 7, 2013) (regarding the US government shutdown of 2013).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

USS Houston (CL-81); May 23rd 1944 - Underway For Combat Operations

May 23rd, 1944. The training was over. Drills would never be over. Gun firing drills, damage control drills, man overboard drills, abandon ship drills, ship maneuvering drills, communication drills, all were now built into the fabric of Houston's daily life. Underway for Majuro Atoll, in company with USS Vincennes and USS Miami, the other ships of cruiser division 14, two battleships, seven destroyers and a minelayer, Houston was on her way to join Admiral Raymond Spruance's Fifth Fleet.

Half a world away, allied naval and air forces in Great Britain were preparing to invade Europe. The objective in Europe was still secret, but in two weeks the greatest armada in history was scheduled to land troops on the unprotected beaches of Normandy.

Aboard Houston the ship settled into the routine for wartime steaming. Lookouts scanned the sea for hostile forces. Surface lookouts scanned in every direction, alert for periscopes, torpedoes, hostile surface ships. Air lookouts scanned from the horizon up. The ship was in Condition III, with one third of her guns manned and ready to go into action at a moment's notice, defending the ship while the entire crew went to battle stations. Below decks in the Combat Information Center, radarmen under supervision of the CIC Watch Officer, watched their radar scopes for indications of hostile air or surface contacts. The ship had no sonar of its own to detect submarines, so CIC personnel depended on radio reports from the seven destroyers escorting the force.  Steaming under radio silence, at least for long range radio transmissions, the force coordinated their actions by signal flags and flashing light communications in Morse code.

Crews of the ship's five-inch dual-purpose guns took turns drilling on "loading machines" that simulated operation of the guns. The guns used semi-fixed ammunition, with powder in 25-lb brass casings, and separate 54-lb projectiles. Though the system used machinery to hoist the ammunition, it was loaded by hand. A well-trained crew could fire 18 rounds per minute from each gun.

The fire rooms and engine rooms had their own drills. They exercised daily on responses to engineering casualties, which might result from either normal operations or from battle damage.

There was little time for relaxation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May, 1944, Aboard Light Cruiser Montpelier In The South Pacific

In May, 1944, USS Houston (CL-81) was at Pearl Harbor getting ready for action in the Pacific. The Cleveland Class cruiser fired its six-inch guns at targets every day and practiced damage control. The guns would take the war to the enemy, but effective control of damage might keep the ship afloat. Lieutenant Commander George Miller, the ship's Damage Control Officer, had used the ship's training and fitting out period in the Boston area to beg, borrow or steal additional timber shoring, steel plate, welding machines and other equipment beyond what he viewed as the parsimonious allowance provided by the Navy's Bureau of Ships.

Meanwhile, to the South and West of Hawaii, Seaman First Class James Fahey served in Houston's sister ship, USS Montpelier, in the area of Bouganville.

Fahey violated Navy regulations by keeping a daily diary of his experience. Fahey served on one of his ship's 40-mm antiaircraft guns, which gave him a good view of the action as Montpelier attacked a Japanese shore battery of 8-inch guns.

Here is his account of one day's action.

This was a foretaste of what would be facing Houston in a few days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma Despises Retired Military Officers

“There is no one in more pursuit of publicity than a retired military officer,” Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma said about last Tuesday's climate report by a leading government-funded military research organization.

For an elected official to complain that retired military officers "pursue publicity" is a bit bizarre.

Inhofe's complaint was that the CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees.

Inhofe, whose political campaigns are funded primarily by wealthy petroleum industry patrons, said of the report’s authors: “I look back wistfully at the days of the Cold War. Now you have people who are mentally imbalanced, with the ability to deploy a nuclear weapon. For anyone to say that any type of global warming is anywhere close to the threat that we have with crazy people running around with nuclear weapons, it shows how desperate they are to get the public to buy this.”

The problem for Inhofe is, that the Board does not support his view that climate change is a hoax. Inhofe knows that, because the truth has been revealed to him. We don't need no stinkin' facts!

The CNA Corporation has evolved from the Center for Naval Analysis, a group formed during World War II to develop more effective methods of countering submarines and aircraft in war at sea. The Center pioneered the application of Operations Analysis to naval warfare and achieved extraordinary results. The Center continued to apply these methods to naval problems and has accumulated nearly seventy-five years experience in the methodology. CNA's analysis is founded on data. And on facts.
Inhofe has no interest in either facts or analysis.

Rear Adm. David Titley, a co-author of the report and a meteorologist who is retired from the Navy, said political opposition would not extinguish what he called the indisputable data in the report.
“The ice doesn’t care about politics or who’s caucusing with whom, or Democrats or Republicans,” said Admiral Titley, who now directs the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Pennsylvania State University.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ukrainian Elections

A week from today, Ukraine holds a fateful election. The Ukrainians I met two decades ago want only to be a normal European country. They have earned the right to try, by spilling their blood at Maidan Square.

But Democracy and freedom, which is what they want, isn't a one-time affair. Now they must earn the right by elections, by economic development, by moving away from the kind of kleptocracy that has governed them for too long. Only the Ukrainian people can do that.

Voting will take courage. Rebuilding the country will take even more courage.

Vlast' Narodam!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Trouble in Turkey

Disaster in a Turkish mine. Accident? Probably no one intentionally caused the explosion.

But in such an instance, there are really no accidents.

Safety is a consequence of planning, regulation, inspections and control. The saying: "Safety is no accident."

There is certainly more to the explosion in Turkey than an accident, and the public is pointing the finger right at Prime Minister Erdogan. Why?

It is more than the fact that more than 300 miners are dead. The opposition parties had united to present a demand that mines be more closely inspected. Two weeks ago the governing party defeated the proposed measure. At the very least, the timing is bad for the governing party. But there's more.  The minister of mines had stood at that mine 9 months ago, declaring how safe the mines were compared to other countries (and despite a horrific safety record). Turkish mines had gone through a  government-led privatization, which cut costs through low-wage job replacement and in-house equipment production (the failure of which caused the fire).

It will be interesting to see how Erdogan gets out of this one.

The lesson: the magic of the marketplace usually doesn't do much for safety. Without strong regulation and enforcement, people die.

Not only in Turkey.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Keith Crisco: 1943-2015

Keith Crisco, part-time Oriental resident and full-time gentleman, died today at his home in Asheboro.

Keith was dedicated to making North Carolina a better place for all of its citizens. He served as Commerce Secretary in Governor Perdue's administration and put his considerable talents to work to bring business to North Carolina during a severe economic crisis. He worked tirelessly improve our economy.

He worked equally hard to be elected to the US Congress.

We are all saddened by his untimely death.

This is a great loss to North Carolina.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

American Fisheries: Good News and Bad News

A recent investigative report shows that many American fisheries are recovering. With a few (but important) exceptions, recent efforts at managing our fisheries have been very effective.

The problem: collecting data on particular wild fish stocks is difficult and expensive. NOAA has to prioritize the effort. As a result, we have some unknown unknowns.

The bad news: fisheries management is less effective in the rest of the world, where over eighty percent of our seafood is caught.

To find out more, read the following VOX article: http://www.vox.com/2014/5/8/5669120/how-the-us-stopped-its-fisheries-from-collapsing

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Good Day For Democrats

Yesterday was a good day for Democrats in Pamlico County and pretty much all over the state.

The turnout in Pamlico County was nearly three times that of 2010.  GOP efforts to suppress the vote haven't worked well so far.

The GOP effort to eliminate Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson on the first ballot also didn't work. In Pamlico County, Justice Hudson won every precinct.

We have a good lineup for the November election. Democrats, Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Reelect Robin Hudson To NC Supreme Court

Billionaires from Kansas and Texas are pouring money into North Carolina elections to defeat Justice Hudson.

What do they want?

What business do they have meddling in our election?

Get Out And Vote: Your Vote Counts

Don't imagine your vote doesn't matter. NC Republicans and the wealthy people they support and defend  have expended a lot of effort to discourage you from voting. The US Supreme Court has unleashed vast amounts of money just so it can counter your vote. Billionaires want to keep you from voting.

Never surrender!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pamlico County Early Vote 2014

This morning's News and Observer published statewide early voting turnout for North Carolina. Turnout percentage was higher this year than in the mid-term election four years ago. The news was especially good for Democrats.

Pamlico County's turnout was even better. Here's the comparison:

Party                      Percentage of One-Stop Votes Cast    

                               Statewide            Pamlico County

Democratic             47.8%                  54.32%      

Republican              33.3%                  26.54%

Unaffiliated             18.8%                  18.89%

As far as numbers go, in 2010 in this county 297 voters cast early ballots. This year, 810 Pamlico County citizens cast early votes, 2.78 times as many as voted in 2010.

That's a good start. Let's keep up the enthusiasm on election day tomorrow.